Rajendra Kishore Panda
Rajendra Kishore Panda is a major Indian writer,
writing in Oriya and, occasionally, in English. He is a recipient of the Sahitya Akademi ( National Academy of Letters ) award,
which is of National eminence.
He was born on 24 June 1944 in village Batalaga in Sambalpur (now Jharsuguda)
district, Orissa, India. Thousands of families faced the trauma of displacement
when a number of villages (including Batalaga and Rampela, where Rajendra lived in his childhood)
were obliterated due to submersion
under the waters of Hirakud Dam Project (built between 1948 and 1957, affecting
more than 22,000 families in 285 villages ) in 1956-57. It was one of the first
large-scale displacements in India as a sequel to a major project. As P. Viegas
mentions in The Hirakud Dam Oustees: Thirty Years After ( in E.G. Thukral
edited publication, Big Dams, Displaced People: Rivers of Sorrow, Rivers of
Change --- Sage Publications, New Delhi, 1992 ), the number of persons
displaced by the Hirakud dam was between 1.1 lakh and 1.6 lakh. Rajendra Kishore
has felt de-habilitated all through his life.
Rajendra had his early education at Rampela M. E. School, Rampela and
Chandrasekhar Zila School, Sambalpur and his collegiate education at Gangadhar Meher
College, Sambalpur. He graduated from Utkal University, with Honours in Plolitical Science
and had his post-graduate study in Allahabad. He holds a Master's
degree in Arts (Political Science) from Allahabad University and a degree of
D. Litt ( honoris causa ), conferred by His Excellency the Governor-Chancellor,
Sambalpur University, Orissa for his outstanding contribution to literature
and learning. He was a member of the Indian Administrative Service, from 14 July
1967 to 30 June
2004. The last office held by him was the position of Member, Board of Revenue, Orissa.
He wrote his first poem when he was a
student of Rampela M. E. School. His poems got published in reputed State level
journals when he was still in the High School and he received the Nika Apa medal
for poetry. During his second year in the College, he received the Prajatantra
poetry award and Agami poetry puraskar.
Among his works of poetry are
Gouna Devata (Minor Gods), 1975, Anavatar O Anya Anya
(Non-Incarnation and Other Poems), 1976, Ghunakshara (Fortuitous
Letters), 1977, Satadru Anek (Many Satadrus), 1977, Nija Pain Nanabaya
(Lullaby For Self), 1980, Choukathhare Chirakala (Forever At Threshold),
1981, Shailakalpa (Mountainesque), 1982, Anya (The Other One),
Bahubreehi (The Syntax), 1991, Bodhinabha (The Bodhi-Sky), 1994,
Ishakhela (Playing With God), 1999, Drohavakya (Words of
Subversion), 2003, Duja Nari (Second Woman), 2003, Vairagi Bhramar
(The Ascetic Bumblebee), Satyottara (Beyond Truth), 2003 and
Bahwarambhe (Many Beginnings), 2003. He has also published a
meta-novel, Chidabhas (Mindscape), 1999. Sada Prusthha (The Blank Page),
his 'Collected Poems', was published in 2003. His 'Collected Works' was
also published as an E-Book in CD format.
He has edited two Web Anthologies : (a)
Indian English Poetry and (b)
Indian Poetry in English Translation. He
also edits The Cogitocrat as a web-journal. Two of his books have been translated into English. Three of his
works are available in the internet.
He participated in a large number of
academic and literary meets including the Kavi Bharati ( Triennale of Indian
poets) organised by Bharat Bhavan, Bhopal in 1987. He has been associated with
several learned bodies and literary organisations.
Some of the awards and honours
he has received are as follows : D. Litt degree for contribution to literature
and learning ( Sambalpur University 2004), Sahitya Bharati Samman for Literature
(Gangadhar Rath Foundation, 2004-05), Sochi Rautroy Samman for Literature (
Bhubaneswar Book Fair, 2005 ), Bishuva Samman for Literature (Prajatantra
Prachar Samiti, 2004), Bharat Chandra Nayak Memorial Literary Award (Sambalpur
University 2001), Sarala Award for Literature ( [Refused], IMFA Charitable
Trust's Sarala Puraskar Committee, 1995), Jhankar Poetry Award (Prajatantra
Prachar Samiti 1994), Governor's Plaque of Honour (Orissa State Council of
Culture for1993), Jibanaranga Felicitation for Poetry (Jibanaranga Journal
1991), Literary Award of Bharatiya Bhasha Parishad, Kolkata (1989), National
Award for contribution to Oriya literature by Sahitya Akademi ( National Academy
of Letters,1985), Literary Award of Dharitri Samajvadi Society (1977),
Padmacharan Patnaik Poetry Award (Utkal University, 1964). He was
the recipient of the prestigious 'Senior Fellowship For Literature' awarded by
Government of India, Department of Culture during the period from April 1994 to
Rajendra Kishore Panda is a trend-setter
in Oriya literature, with a creative vision, wide range and variety, evocative
language-use, sublime themes and a humanist philosophy of life. The National
Academy of Letters ( Sahitya Akademi ), while conferring its highest literary award on him for the
year 1985, hailed his literary work as "an outstanding contribution to
contemporary Oriya literature" in general and mentioned about its "new
awareness, ethical content and social involvement" in particular.
Links : II
Indian Poetry Anthology
II Indian-English Poetry
Anthology II Bodhinabha II
Nijapain Nanabaya II
GoogleSearch II Oriya Poetry-I
II Oriya Poetry-II
II Anya II
Rajendra Kishore Panda
If the poet
had his way, he would like to break open all doors, cages, prisons, zoos
and skies. He would open up the sea-shells, the seeds, the labia, the crevices
in the rock. He would command the crimson rivers to rush back to the primordial
aorta. He would have razed Indraprastha to shards this morning to build
it up, brick by brick, in the evening. He would have lured Mohini to feed
amrit to all gods, demons and humans, each according to his hunger.
Instead, must he speak about poetry, about creativity ? I tend to miss
the threads of arguments. Cold logic is anathema to me, moulds I hate.
I drop the reins, dismount; My horse gallops away: virile and wild, riderless,
directionless, to its ashwamedhas. I discard theories, sermons and
commandments. What can I say about poetry?
its elements. Earth, water, air and fire must be blended with vyoma.
Void is an essential ingredient of art, silence has symbiosis with music
and poetry. Maybe, poetry's voyage is towards a state where even silence
is silent; but a poet may never reach that stage. And there, in that failure,
lies the sweet ache of the creative attempt. The unsaid outweighs the said.
Like a rishi falling for the temptress near the peak of penance,
the poet goes on splashing words and sounds with silences. His Innisfree
remains faraway. To arrive is to die, attainment is finis.
The formation of
man out of the pre-sapiens got under way nearly four million years ago with
the appearance of proto-humans, the so-called ape men, and culminated with
the emergence of homo sapiens. Since rudimentary cultural activities like
tool-making were known to the proto-humans, there was an overlap of well
over a million years between the inception of culture and the appearance
of man (homo-sapiens). Thus culture was not added on a finished animal,
it was rather a central component in the production of that animal itself.
Endowed with a
richer central nervous system, the homo sapiens interacted with culture
more and more, manifest in its significant symbols like rituals, myths,
art and language. Man needed these to orient, to communicate and to transcend.
Viewed against this glacial progression in the past and the unimaginable
possibilities in the future, what we call creative literature today seems
to be in a fledgeling infancy.
Man is thus an
unfinished animal and he tries to both complete and surpass himself through
creativity. A Narcissus at the water's edge, he wishes to blow life into
his image by the sheer force of gaze and then to pervade the universe with
the cosmic ego. Creativity is latent in every man. It is a matter of degree
why some men emerge as poets or artists.
And yet, a poet
cannot sit down and say : today I shall write my saddest lines, tomorrow
my sweetest, and the day after my best. The best lines remain unwritten.
In the poetic craft, the evocation and the advent may not meet for months.
Despite continual ablutions and penance, many of us do not cross even the
stage of initiation-rites during a life-time.
Poetry comes in
various ways. It may have a long incubation. It may also come in glimpses
: maybe in a visual haze, a truant fragrance, a whiff of whisper, a fleeting
memory re-lived in a moment. It keeps on haunting, makes the poet restless.
And the seed-lines sprout. Sprigs, foliage, flowers and thorns grow thereafter.
Mercifully, the spell is brief. None can endure an endless euphoria: The
`aha' experience, as Arthur Koestler calls it, comes with the moment
of truth, the flash of illumination, when the myriad bits of the puzzle
click into an unprogrammed pattern, acquire a new meaning. Of course, I
would not say that a work of art is all revelation; craft has its role
in shaping its nooks and niches.
Man is condemned
to meaning. Meaning leads to a maze of interpretations and counter-interpretations.
Science does not provide any answer to countless questions. Scientism leads
to blind alleys. Between the without and the within, this and not-this,
either and or, poetry provides a link language.
To discover himself,
man has to take birth from moment to moment. Creativity adopts its own
obsterics. It keeps alive the sense of wonder of the child playful within
the poet. To realise himself, man has to discard all "alibis of unfreedom"
including the tyranny of knowledge and reason. The creative man is concerned
with transcendence. Transcendence need not always have a `before' and an
`after'. It may be relational. Transcendence may also be immanent. The
`I' in poetry need not necessarily be personal and singular. Even solitude
may be a "form of relatedness", the "soul may be a society".
The poet in action
is born and unborn continually. The `now' and 'here' of poetry includes the
`before' and `after', `there' and `somewhere', the linear and lateral,
the vertical and horizontal, the circular and the irregular. True poetry
cannot be dated and dead, cannot be classified into old and modern. It
rubs off the artifice of history and geography. Such poetry is always contemporary.
Immortality is here and now. Vyasa, Homer, Kalidasa, Sarala Das, Bharati,
Kumaran, Lorca, Rabindranath, Neruda and Nirala exist here and now. They
are all our contemporaries. Perhaps a single poem is being written, continually
in installments, by all the poets in their variegated splendour.
the choice of `wrong' words, sparking on fortuitous juxtaposition, aroused
and charged with tangent powers. Poetcraft breaks the dusty rules of grammar.
It seems to distort the language; but, in fact, awakens it, rejuvenates
it. The poet's voice suffers from lapsus linguae: a delightful imbalance.
It transforms earthly lies into meaningful axioms.
I have not clung
to any fixed form of presentation. Style is often the other name of self-repetition.
Each poem is born with its swaddling-clothes. The relativity of the theme
governs the tone and manner of presentation. I do not believe that all
poetry must be undertonal; Nor should it be all-rhetoric. It may coo or
caw or neigh or roar; it all depends on the `animal' inhering it. The tonal
variance may not often be needed in mono-thematic poets; they are constant
in their singular devotion. In others, the male, the rebel, the ascetic,
the child, the lover, the jester alternate from time to time. The nature
all around and the life, if lived too the hilt, present limitless possibilities
for the themes of poetry. As a poet has said, anything that a poet can
effectively lift from its dull bed by force of the imagination becomes
his material. Anything.
We live in a world
with no hiding place, death being the only escape-route. The poet true
to his mettle cannot but be moved by the human destiny, the human anguish—
"the rush of roots and blood", hunger and penury, the exploitation of man
by man. "I have been their hand, their axe, their mouth- stomach-genitals."
The poet owns responsibility. He knows, poetry cannot conjure up any gross,
utilitarian remedies. "I have no wish to change my planet", he muses. He
affirms life, retrieves the certitude, espouses an astikya in an
area of darkness. He upholds a sense of meliorism. The prayer emanating
from the creative human, the awareness arising within, represents the collective
will and is not wholly futile. The poet prays for more of milk inside the
budding paddy, more of silk within the silkworm, more of fire inside the
igneous wood, more of sweetness in sugarcane and in honey, more of wine
in the `wine-tree', more of blue, more of moonlight in the sky,
more and more of humanism in man.
What is the future
of poetry ? We have not exhausted the limit of the possible in language
and silence. Despite the onslaught of the media, the magistracy and the
materialism of the present-day world, poetry will continue to bloom and
to burst for quite some time. I am least worried by the alleged proliferation
of bad verse. It is no small solace to mankind that many still choose to
make verse, howsoever bad, in stead of making bombs. Bad verse is in fact
a part of the terrain.
Maybe a time will
come, when the poet will not record his thoughts merely in words : with
the aid of equipment, works of art may be presented with varying sounds,
animated colour, wafting smells and even aspects of touch and temperature,
as per the sequences and situations of the theme. It may then be possible
for the art-lovers to have a fuller understanding through their auditory,
visual, olfactory and tactile senses. Maybe a time will come, when the
creative and receptive antennae of humans will be so sensitive that poetry
will be communicated instantaneously from mind to mind, without any aid.
Until then, let us bear with the interplay of words and silences that the
fecundity of the earth-matrix surges up from time to time.
*This is the acceptance-speech
of Rajendra Kishore Panda on the occasion of the conferment of the Sahitya Akademi (
National Academy of Letters ) award for 1985.